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Maremma

Italy
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Concierge.com's insider take:

Stylish, top-dollar resorts like Punta Ala alternate along the coast with family-oriented gelato-and-pedalò beach villages. But inland, and in the patches of coastline that are protected as nature reserves, there is a sense of wide-open spaces and remote natural beauty that is rare in densely populated Italy. To the north, the wine estates of Bolgheri make some of Tuscany's most prized reds, such as the stellar Sassicaia. Piombino, south of here, is the port for ferries to the rocky island of Elba, where Napoleon Bonaparte was sent in exile in 1814. Farther south still, the beaches at Castiglione della Pescaia get consistently high marks from Italy's Lega Ambiente (Environmental League), making it one of the most popular coastal destinations. Twenty minutes away, Vetulonia, on the site of an ancient Etruscan city, hosts a worthwhile archaeological museum; it also organizes visits to Etruscan tombs (1 Piazza Vetluna; 39-0564-948-058). About a half-hour drive south toward Monte Argentario, the Parco Naturale della Maremma (www.parks.it/parco.maremma), also known as Parco dell' Uccellina, is a vast 24,000-acre natural paradise with pristine beaches, pine forests on the estuary, and virgin woodland in the hills, all providing incredible bird-watching and hikes with magnificent views. Access is from the Alberese visitor's center (Via del Bersagliere 79; 39-0564-407-098), which also organizes guided walking and riding tours. Cars are not allowed in the park, but a jitney takes visitors to the head of the trails at Pratese, while another runs down to the long, unspoiled beach at Marina di Alberese. In mid-August, the present-day butteri gather here for the annual cattle rodeo.

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